Tea Factory in Chakva. Sorting Section


By the beginning of the 20th century, the plantation and processing plants at Chakva, Georgia, north of the port of Batumi, had become one of the main suppliers of tea to the Russian Empire and an alternative to imports from China. This photograph shows a room at Chakva where the tea leaves (in bundles above and behind) are sorted by size in rotary drums. Chutes at the base of each drum empty into wooden boxes, where the leaves await further processing. In the 19th century the Russian Empire expanded into the southern Caucasus, particularly after the conclusion of the Caucasus War in 1864. Previously, this area was dominated by the Ottoman Empire, which subjugated the different kingdoms of the southern Caucasus in the first half of the 16th century. With its mild, humid Black Sea climate, this region was suited to the cultivation of semitropical plants such as tea. The image is by Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944), who used a special color photography process to create a visual record of the Russian Empire in the early 20th century. Some of Prokudin-Gorskii’s photographs date from about 1905, but the bulk of his work is from between 1909 and 1915, when, with the support of Tsar Nicholas II and the Ministry of Transportation, he undertook extended trips through many parts of the empire. In 1905 and in 1912 Prokudin-Gorskii traveled in the Caucasus, including the territory of Georgia and the Black Sea coast.

Date Created

Subject Date

Title in Original Language

Чайная фабрика в Чакве. Сортировочное отделение

Type of Item

Physical Description

Glass negative (presented as a digital color composite)


  • Prokudin-Gorskii’s photographic work survives primarily in two forms: 1,901 black-and-white triple-frame glass plate negatives, made with color separation filters, which Prokudin-Gorskii used to make color prints and lantern slides; and 12 albums of sepia-tone prints, made from the glass negatives, which Prokudin-Gorskii compiled as a record of his travels and studies. The Library of Congress purchased the glass plate negatives and the albums from the Prokudin-Gorskii family in 1948. In 2004, the Library of Congress had digital color composites made from all the surviving glass negatives using a software algorithm to automatically align the color components. As with most historical photographs, title and subject identifications are corrected and enhanced through new research. Current information on the collection is at http://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/prok/.

Last updated: September 28, 2016